When I first heard about the play The Tashme Project: The Living Archives and heard the words “verbatim theater”, I was intrigued. That being said, it didn’t take me long to understand the importance of hearing its stories word for word. Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa wrote the engaging play and are also the lead and only actors. They are performing itat the Centaur Theater from November 15 to November 24.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Canadian government removed all Japanese Canadians from the coast by force and sent them to internment camps inland British Columbia. Moreover, they considered them ‘enemy aliens’ and shipped them off to eight years of exile. The largest of the camps was called Tashme.
Gathering Stories for The Tashme Project
First of all, Matt and Julie, the creators of the play, are both of Japanese Canadian descent. They wanted to open a dialogue with their elders about their experience in the internment camps. Consequently, they interviewed 20 Nisei (2nd Generation Japanese Canadians) from across Canada. The Nisei were from their own families all the way to distant connections.
“There is a legacy of silence around interment passed down through Japanese family and culture.” – Tashme Productions
Also, at the time of the internment camps, the Nisei were children. Therefore, some of their stories are playful childhood memories. So, this is in contrast to the majority of stories about the harsh realities most Japanese Canadians lived.
Secondly, Matt and Julie recount their ancestor’s stories verbatim, embodying each character gracefully. Certainly, they manage to capture the distinct voice and spirit of each interviewee. Above all, the actors fluidly alternated between recounting their own experiences on one hand and “becoming” the Nisei on the other.
Furthermore, some fractured reflecting glass displayed archival photos on stage. Inevitably, this added much power to the passionate and skillful performances. Lastly, after each show, audience members can speak with the actors during an artist talk.
To sum up, throughout the play I laughed and I was moved to tears. It felt like we got a glimpse into an often untold part of history that I think is important to hear. I highly recommend The Tashme Project to anyone who loves documentary-style theater or who wants to explore history through powerful storytelling! Click here for more information and for tickets.
On another note, the Centaur Theater has a knack of hosting plays that make you feel all of the emotions. Check out other Jano Lapin articles about Centaur Theater plays such as Hosanna and Bakersfield Mist!
JMSB alumna with a business mind and a creative heart. Prefers any environment where she can combine the two. World traveler who is at her happiest in airports/train stations/bus stands because that usually means she is on her way to explore a fascinating new destination. Curious about the process and history of creators such as Gaudí, Dalí, and Chanel to name just a few. Montrealer who loves discovering art and stories that set the soul on fire, making them all the more exciting to share!